A$AP Ferg may hail from a block in Harlem notoriously known as "Hungry Ham (Hamilton Heights)," but that never completely defined him. Whether it be launching clothing and jewelry lines or attending art school, he constantly bobbed and weaved past expectations. As a rapper, unpredictability remains his only calling card. The next member of the A$AP Mob collective to have a solo project, he can slip from gruff, gritty rhymes to soaring singing, and he does so seamlessly. On his A$AP Worldwide released mixtape, Trap Lord, he's got his own musical domain on lock.
“Ferg's debut [mixtape] will not sound like anything that's out in the music industry right now,” assures A$AP Worldwide co-owner, A$AP Yams.
Hip-hop surrounded Ferg from childhood. His father Darold Ferguson owned a Harlem boutique and printed shirts and logos for record labels including Bad Boy Records and luminaries such as Teddy Riley, Heavy D, Bell Biv DeVoe, and more. Even though he immersed himself in music, the younger Ferg pursued fashion at first. Launching Devoni Clothing in 2005, he designed and distributed high-end belts worn by the likes of Chris Brown, Swizz Beatz, and Diggy Simmons. Eventually, his hustle, creativity, and business acumen extended to music.
"Trapping means hustling," he explains. "I went from painting to making clothes to rapping. I always put myself into everything I do one hundred percent. It doesn't matter what I'm working on. I want to perfect everything I do. Success is the only option. They call me ‘Trap Lord’ because my hustle game is impeccable."
Friends since high school, A$AP Rocky recognized that "impeccable hustle game" and pushed Ferg to get behind the mic as much as possible. In 2010, they teamed up for the viral hits "Get High," "Kissin' Pink," and explosive "Ghetto Symphony" from Rocky's chart-topping major label 2013 debut LONG.LIVE.A$AP.
"Rocky is a major reason I'm rapping," he reveals. "He believes in me and really challenges me. We look up to each other, and I consider him a brother."
The world got its formal introduction to Ferg on the inimitable and irresistible "Work." His first single resounds with gutter-fabulous production from Chinza & Fly—who he actually found on tumblr while touring with Rocky on Drake's Club Paradise Tour. His impenetrable flow charges through a smoky synth haze, rising to the forefront. Upon its release, the music video quickly racked up over 2 million online views and was dubbed one of the "50 Best Songs of 2012" by tastemaker Complex.com.
About "Work," Ferg goes on, "Lyrically, it's truth. It's a motivational song. I speak where I come from. I wanted talk about real life shit, and that's what it does. You've got to put in that work."
Also in his arsenal is the sharp and slick "Dump Dump." "That was inspired by a night in a NYC club," he laughs. "We're going to leave it at that. I was there dodging glasses and stuff."
Then, he offers a soulful rumination on life and death, "100 Million Roses." After seeing the film Selena, he became infatuated with the legendary Latina icon and he researched her legacy, learning as much as he possibly could about her. Dedicating the song to Selena and everyone else he's lost personally, Ferg's honesty hits hard.
"She's had such an inspiring story. I dedicated '100 Million Roses' to her and my dad. I wonder how people would look at my life when I die, and that's what the verse is about. How would people feel? I know I'd want a 100 million roses."
Ultimately, Ferg is beginning to leave his own legacy with Trap Lord. "I hope people take the good and the bad from what I've got to say," he concludes. "I've seen so much shit in my life. There were times I ducked bullets at a basketball game, and then I went to a fashion show. I've experienced depression. I've experienced triumph. I've experienced hate. I've experienced love. You can't hide from this shit though. It builds your character. I learned how to be independent. I made it out of the hood, and now I want go to the top."